Under the Bridges of Paris, Part 2

3 May 2011

What else in Paris? We visited a little chandlery close by, to get some necessary boaty bits, Mike bought a 1m class radio controlled model sailing yacht to have fun with, we visited, browsed and bought books in the famous ‘Shakespeare & Co’ bookshop, originally owned and run by Sylvia Beach, who kept open house & supported many writers, James Joyce & Hemmingway included, we walked & ate in & out. Gurwan, cousin of my friend Riwanona from my student days in ‘67/68 called by one evening for a drink; he works in an office overlooking the Arsenal, and appeared every bit the ‘honme d’affaires’, complete with pinstripe and umbrella, but soon relaxed into more of the wild student I remembered. Then he, his wife, whose mother is a Dillon with interesting Wild Geese/Irish Brigade connections, and Riwanona came and joined us for a buffet style lunch & a trip up the Seine just after we left the Arsenal on a breezy, bright and sunny day. They have done some sailing, so there was common ground straight away, Gurwan speaks quite good English, Anne excellent English, and Reggie and Mike aired their French so everyone was chatting.

Since then, we have been concentrating on sorting winter moorings. After ringing up a few likely looking places we took a couple of days off, hired a little car and went off to look at them – a pleasant trip in itself driving south in lovely clear sunny weather along the Seine and then the Loing, the canal de Briare and the Canal Lateral a la Loire, wine and chateaux country. Having stopped at many little ‘Halte de Plaisance’, chatted to anyone who looked like liveaboards, as well as various Capitaineries, and done a lot of discussing of pros and cons, we are finally now making our leisurely way to La Chapelle Montlinard, (it’s 2 hours by train south of Paris, but will take us 2-3 weeks!) on the Canal Lateral a la Loire where we plan to settle for the winter months. La Chapelle itself is a tiny village, and the harbour and canal there not very exciting, but it is just down the road and across the non-navigable Loire from La Charite sur Loire, a lovely lively little old town with a lot to offer – not least the fact that it is a ‘Town of Books’ like Hay-on-Wye and as Graiguenamanagh is aspiring to be! Apparently there is much going on over the winter; concerts, courses, etc, and there is an indoor swimming pool, whereas other places around mainly concentrate on the summer months and tourist attractions. Dutch Barge Association couple Guy and Ruth Toye have an old barge and a Tjalk in the harbour, and are doing up an old house and 2 satellite cottages opposite, so it will be good to have some English speaking folk around, & they tell us there are a few others living in the vicinity also.

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